Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of William and Mary: 1689 - 1694 Part 4


1692, Feb 13
King William felt impatient at the unsubmissiveness of the Jacobite clans, chiefly Macdonalds of Glengarry, Keppoch, and Glencoe, the Grants of Glenmoriston, and the Camerons of Locheil, because it caused troops to be kept in Scotland, which he much wanted for his army in Flanders. His Scottish ministers, and particularly Sir John Dalrymple, Master of Stair, the Secretary of State, carried towards those clans feelings of constantly growing irritation, as latterly the principal obstacle to a settlement of the country under the new system of things. At length, in August 1691, the king issued an indemnity, promising pardon to all that had been in arms against him before the 1st of June last, provided they should come in any time before the 1st of January next year, an swear an sIgn the oath of allegiance.

The letters of Sir John Dalrymple from the court at London during the remainder of the year, shew that he grudged these terms to the Highland Jacobites, and would have been happy to find that a refusal of them justified harsher measures. It never occurred to him that there was anything but obstinacy, or a hope of immediate assistance from France to enable them to set up King James again, in their hesitation to swear that they sincerely in their hearts accepted King William and Queen Mary as the sovereigns of the land equally by right and in fact. He really hoped that at least the popish clan of the Macdonalds of Glencoe would hold out beyond the proper day, so as to enable the government to make an example of them. It was all the better that the time of grace expired in the depth of winter, for 'that,' said he (letter to Colonel Hamilton, December 3, 1691), 'is the proper season to maul them, in the cold long nights.' On the 9th of January, under misinformation about their having submitted, he says: 'I am sorry that Keppoch and M'Ian of Glencoe are safe.' It was the sigh of a savage at the escape of a long-watched foe. Still he understood Glengarry, Clanranald, and Glenmoriston to be holding out, and he gave orders for the troops proceeding against them, granting them at the utmost the terms of prisoners of war. In the midst of a letter on the subject, dated the 11th January, he says: ' Just now my Lord Argyle tells me that Glencoe hath not taken the oaths; at which I rejoice-it 's a great work of charity to be exact in rooting out that damnable sect, the worst in all the Highlands.' Delighted with the intelligence-' it is very good news here,' he elsewhere says-he obtained that very day a letter from the king anent the Highland rebels, commanding the troops to cut them off' by all manner of hostility,' and for this end to proclaim high penalties to all who should give them assistance or protection. Particular instructions subscribed by the king followed on the 16th, permitting terms to be offered to Glengarry, whose house was strong enough to give trouble, but adding: 'If M'Ian of Glencoe and that tribe can be well separated from the rest, it will be a proper vindication of the public justice to extirpate that sect of thieves.' On the same day, Dalrymple himself wrote to Colonel Hill, governor of Inverlochy, ‘I shall entreat you that, for a just vengeance and public example, the thieving tribe of Glencoe be rooted out to purpose. The Earls of Argyle and Breadalbane have promised they shall have no retreat in their bounds.’ He felt, however, that it must be ‘quietly done;’ otherwise they would make shift both for their cattle and themselves. There can be no doubt what he meant; merely to harry the people, would make them worse thieves than before—they must be, he elsewhere says, ‘rooted out and cut off.’

In reality, the old chief of the Glencoe Macdonalds had sped to Inverlochy or Fort William before the end of the year, and offered his oath to the governor there, but, to his dismay, found he had come to the wrong officer. It was necessary he should go to Inverary, many miles distant, and there give in his submission to the sheriff. In great anxiety, the old man toiled his way through the wintry wild to Inverary. He had to pass within a mile of his own house, yet stopped not to enter it. After all his exertions, the sheriff being absent for two days after his arrival, it was not till the 6th of January that his oath was taken and registered. The register duly went thereafter to the Privy Council at Edinbargh; but the name of Macdonald of Glencoe was not found in it: it was afterwards discovered to have been by special pains obliterated, though still traceable.

Here, then, was that ‘sect of thieves ‘formally liable to the vengeance which the secretary of state meditated against them. The commander, Livingstone, on the 23d January, wrote to Colonel Hamilton of Inverlochy garrison to proceed with his work against the Glencoe men. A detachment of the Earl of Argyle’s regiment—Campbeils, hereditary enemies of the Maedoualds of Glencoe—under the command of Campbell of Glenlyon, proceeded to the valley, affecting nothing but friendly intentions, and were hospitably received. Glenlyon himself, as uncle to the wife of one of the chiefs sons, was hailed as a friend. Each morning, he called at the humble dwelling of the chief, and took his morning-draught of usquebaugh. On the evening of the 12th of February, he played at cards with the chief’s family. The final orders for the onslaught, written on the 12th at Ballachulish by Major Robert Duncanson (a Campbell also), were now in Glenlyon’s handa They bore—’ You are to put all to the sword under seventy. You are to have a special care that the old fox and his son do on no account escape your hands. You ‘re to secure all avenues, that none escape; this you are to put in execution at five o’clock precisely, and by that time, or very shortly after it, I‘ll strive to be at you with a stronger party. If I do not come to you at five, you are not to tarry for me, but to fall on.’

Glenlyon was but too faithful to his instructions. His soldiers had their orders the night before. John Macdonald, the chief’s eldest son, observing an unusual bustle among the soldiers, took an alarm, and inquired what was meant. Glenlyon soothed his fears with a story about a movement against Glengarry, and the lad went to bed. Meanwhile, efforts were making to plant guards at all the outlets of that alpine glen; but the deep snow on the ground prevented the duty from being fully accomplished. At five, Lieutenant Lindsay came with his men to the house of the chief, who, hearing of his arrival, got out of bed to receive him. He was shot dead as he was dressing himself. Two of his people in the house shared his fate, and his wife, shamefully treated by the soldiers, died next day. At another hamlet called Auchnaion, the tacksman and his family received a volley of shot as they were sitting by their fireside, and all but one were laid dead or dying on the floor. The survivor entreated to be killed in the open air, and there succeeded in making his escape. There were similar scenes at all the other inhabited places in the glen, and before daylight, thirty-eight persons had been murdered. The rest of the people, including the chief’s eldest son, fled to the mountains, where many of them are believed to have perished. When Colonel Hamilton came at breakfast-time, he found one old man alive mourning over the bodies of the dead; and this person, though he might have been even formally exempted as above seventy, was slain on the spot. The only remaining duty of the soldiers was to burn the houses and harry the country. This was relentlessly done, two hundred horses, nine hundred cattle, and many sheep and goats being driven away.

A letter of Dalrymple, dated from London the 5th March, makes us aware that the Massacre of Glencoe was already making a sensation there. It was said that the people had been murdered in their beds, after the chief had made the required submission. The secretary professed to have kuown nothing of the last fact, but he was far from regretting the bloodshed. ‘All I regret is that any of the sect got away.’ When the particulars became fully known—when it was ascertained that the Campbells had gone into the glen as friends, and fallen upon the people when they were in a defeneeless state and when all suspicion was lulled asleep - the transaction assumed the character which it has ever since borne in the public estimation, as one of the foulest in modern history.

The Jacobites trumpeted it as an offset against the imputed seventies of the late reigns. Its whole details were given in the French gazettes, as an example of the paternal government now. planted in Britain. The government was compelled, in self-defence, to order an inquiry into the affair, and the report presented in 1695 fully brought out the facts as here detailed, leaving the principal odium to rest with Dalrymple. The king himself, whose signature follows close below the savage sentence, ‘If M’Ian of Glencoe,’ &c., did not escape reproach. True it is, that so far from punishing his secretary, he soon after this report gave him a full remission, and conferred on him the teinds of the parish in which lay his principal estates. [See Papers Illuatrative of the Political Condition of the Highlands from 1689 to 1696. Maitland Club. 1845.]

Feb 16
The Privy Council had before them a petition from Lieutenant Brisbane of Sir Robert Douglas’s regiment, regarding one Archibald Baird, an Irish refugee, imprisoned, at Paisley for housebreaking. The sheriff thought the probation ‘scrimp’ (scanty), and besides, was convinced that ‘extreme poverty had been a great temptation to him to commit the said crime.’ Seeing he was, moreover, ‘a proper young man fit for service,’ and ‘willing and forward to go over to Flanders to fight against the French,’ the sheriff had hitherto delayed to pronounce sentence upon him. Without any ceremony, the Council ordered that Baird be delivered to Brisbane, that he might be transported to Flanders as a soldier.

The reader will probably be amused by the sheriff’s process of ideas—first, that the crime was not proved; and, second, that it had been committed under extenuating circumstances. The leniency of the Privy Council towards such a culprit, in ordering him out of the country as a soldier, is scarcely less characteristic. The truth is, the exigencies of the government for additional military force were now greater than ever, so that scruples about methods of recruiting had come to be scarcely recognisable. Poor people confined in jail on suspicion of disaffection, were in many instances brought to a purchase of liberty by taking on as soldiers; criminals, who had pined there for months or years, half-starved, were glad to take soldiering as their punishment. Sturdy vagrants were first gathered into the jails for the offence of begging, and then made to know that, only by taking their majesties’ pay, could they regain their freedom. But freedom was not to be instantly gained even in this way. The recruits were kept in jail, as well as the criminals and the disaffected—little distinction, we may well believe, observed between them. Not till ready to go on board for Flanders, were these gallant Britons permitted to breathe the fresh air.

An appearance of regard for the liberty of the subject was indeed kept up, and on the 23d February 1692, a committee of the Privy Council was appointed to go to the prisons of Edinburgh and Canongate, and inspect the recruits kept there, so as to ascertain if there were any who were unjustly detained against their will. But this was really little more than an appearance for decency’s sake, the instances of disregard for individual rights being too numerous even in their own proceedings to allow any different conclusion being arrived at.

Feb
Two ministers at Dumfries, who had been ‘preachers before prelacy was abolished,’ gave displeasure to the populace by using the Book of Common Prayer. On a Sunday, early in this month, a party of about sixteen ‘mean country persons living about four or five miles from Dumfries, who disowned. both Presbyterian and Episcopal ministers, and acknowledged none but Mr Houston,’ came and dragged these two clergymen out of the town, took from each his prayer-book, and gave them a good beating, after which they were liberated, and allowed to return home. At an early hour next morning, the same party came into the town and burned one of the books at the Cross, on which they affixed a placard, containing, we may presume, a declaration of their sentiments. The Privy Council indignantly called the provost of Dumfries before them, and while censuring him for allowing such a riot to take place, enjoined him to take care ‘that there be no occasions given for the like disorders in time coming.’ That is to say, the Privy Council did not desire the Dumfries magistrates to take any measures for preventing the attacks of ‘mean country persons’ upon unoffending clergymen using the forms of prayer sanctioned in another and connected kingdom not thirty miles distant, but to see that such clergymen were not allowed to give provocations of that kind to ‘mean country persons.’

1692, Mar
Dumfries had at this time another trouble on its hands. Marion Dickson in Blackshaw, Isobel Dickson in Locherwood, Agnes Dickson (daughter of Isobel), and Marion Herbertson in Mouse­waldbank, had for a long time been ‘suspected of the abominable and horrid crime of witchcraft,’ and were believed to have ‘committed many grievous malefices upon several persons their neighbours and others.’ It was declared to be damnifying ‘to all good men and women living in the country thereabouts, who cannot assure themselves of safety of their lives by such frequent malefices as they commit?

Under these circumstances, James Fraid, John Martin, Wiffiam Nicolson, and Thomas Jaffrey in Blackshaw, John Dickson in Slop of Locherwoods, John Dickson in Locherwoods, and John Dickson in Overton of Locherwoods, took it upon them to apprehend the women, and carried them to be imprisoned at Dumfries by the sheriff, which, however, the sheriff did not consent to till after the six men had granted a bond engaging to prosecute. Fortified with a certificate from the presbytery of Dumfries, who were ‘fully convinced of the guilt of the women and of the many malefices committed by them,’ the men applied to the Privy Council for a commission to try the delinquents.

The Lords ordered the women to be transported to Edinburgh for trial.

Mar 29
The government beginning to relax a little the severity it had hitherto exercised towards captive Jacobites, the Earl of Perth, on a showing of the injury his health was suffering from long imprisonment in Stirling Castle, was liberated on a caution for five thousand pounds sterling, being a sum equal to the annual income of the highest nobles of the land.

William Livingstone, brother to the Viscount Kilsyth, and husband of Dundee’s widow, had been a prisoner in the Edinburgh Tolbooth from June 1689 till November 1690—seventeen months—thereafter, had lived in a chamber in Edinburgh under a sentry for a year—afterwards was allowed to live in a better lodging, and to go forth for a walk each day, but still under a guard. In this condition he now continued. The consequence of his being thus treated, and of his rents being all the time sequestrated, was a great confusion of his affairs, threatening the entire ruin of his fortune. On his petition, the Council now allowed him ‘to go n abroad under a sentinel each day from morning to evening furth of the house of Andrew Smith, periwig-maker, at the head of Niddry’s Wynd, in Edinburgh, to which he is confined,’ he finding caution under fifteen hundred pounds sterling to continue a true prisoner as heretofore; at the same time, the sequestration of his rents was departed from.

On the 19th April, Mr Livingstone was allowed to visit Kilsyth under a guard of dragoons, in order to arrange some affairs. But this leniency was of short duration. We soon after find him again in strict confinement in Edinburgh Castle; nor was it till September 1693, that, on an earnest petition setting forth his declining health, he was allowed to be confined to ‘a chamber in the house of Mistress Lyell, in the Parliament Close,’ he giving large bail for his peaceable behaviour. This, again, came to a speedy end, for, being soon after ordered to re-enter his strait confinement in the Castle, he petitioned to be allowed the Canon-gate jail instead, and was permitted, as something a shade less wretched than the Castle, to become a prisoner in the Edinburgh Tolbooth. On the 4th of January 1693, he was again allowed the room in the Parliament Close, but on the 8th of February this was exchanged for Stirling Castle. In the course of the first five years of British liberty, Mr Livingstone must have acquired a tolerably extensive acquaintance with the various forms and modes of imprisonment, so far as these existed in the northern section of the island.

Captain John Crighton, once a dragoon in the service of King James, and whose memoirs were afterwards written from his own information by Swift, was kept in jail for twenty-one months after June 1689; then for ten months in a house under a sentinel; since that time in a house, with permission to get a daily walk; ‘which long imprisonment and restraint has been very grievous and expensive to the petitioner (Crighton),’ and ‘has redacted him and his small family to a great deal of misery and want, being a stranger in this kingdom.’ His restraint was likewise relaxed on his giving caution to the extent of a hundred pounds to remain a true prisoner.

Soon after arose the alarm of invasion from France, and all the seventies against the suspected Jacobites were renewed. William Livingstone was, in June, confined once more to his chamber at the periwig-maker’s, and Captain John Crighton had to return to a similar restraint. The Earl of Perth, so recently liberated from Stirling Castle, was again placed there. At that time, there were confined in Edinburgh Castle the Earls of Seaforth and Home, the Lord Bellenden, and Paterson, Ex-archbishop of Glasgow. In Stirling Castle, besides Lord Perth, lay his relation, Sir John Drummcmd of Machany, [This was the father of Mr Andrew Drummond, the founder of the celebrated banking-house in the Strand.], and the Viscount Frendraught, the latter having only six hundred merks per annum (about £34), so that it became of importance that his wife should be allowed to come in and live with him, instead of requiring a separate maintenance; to so low a point had civil broils and private animosities brought this once flourishing family. Neville Payne lay a wretched prisoner in Edinburgh Castle. Sir Robert Grierson of Lagg was ‘contracting sore ailments under ‘protracted confinement in the Canongate Jail. A great number of other men were undergoing their second, and even their third year of confinement, in mean and filthy tolbooths, where their health was unavoidably impaired.

On the 2d of June, Crighton gave in a petition reciting that he had been again put under restraint, and for no just cause, as he had always since the Revolution been favourable to the new government, and on the proclamation of the Convention, had deserted his old service in the Castle, bringing with him thirty-nine soldiers. He was relieved from close confinement, and ordered to be subjected to trial. On the 10th of June, he was ordered to be set at liberty, on caution. Less than two months after, failing to appear on summons, his bond for £100 was forfeited, and the money, when obtained from his security, to be given to Adair the geographer.

On the 14th of June 1692, Captain Wallace represented that he had now been three years a captive, ‘whereby his health is impaired, his body weakened, and his small fortune entirely ruined.’ ‘Yet hitherto, there has been no process against him.’ He entreated that he might be liberated on signing ‘a volunteer banishment,’ and he would ‘never cease to pray that God may bless the nation with ane lasting peace, of  [which] he would never be a disturber.’ An order for a process against him was issued.

It was difficult, however, even for the Scottish Privy Council to make a charge of treason against an officer whose only fault was that, being appointed by a lawful authority to defend a post, he had performed the. duty assigned to him, albeit at the expense of a few lives to the rabble which he was commanded to resist. Still when the solicitor-general, Lockhart, told them be could not process Captain Wallace for treason ‘without a special warrant to that effect,’ they divided on the subject, and the negative was only carried by a majority.

Apr 25
Happened an affair of private war and violence, supposed to be the last that took place in the county of Renfrew. John Maxwell of Dargavel had ever since the Reformation possessed a seat and desk in the kirk of Erakine, along with a right to bury in the subjacent ground. William Hamilton of Orbieston, proprietor of the estate of Erskine, disputed the title of Dargavel to these properties or privileges, arid it came to a high quarrel between the two gentlemen. Finding at length that Dargavel would not peaceably give up what he and his ancestors had so long possessed, Orbieston—who, by the way, was a partisan of the old dynasty, and perhaps generally old-fashioned in his ideas— resolved to drive his neighbour out of it by force. A complaint, afterwards drawn up by Dargavel for the Privy Council, states that William Hamilton of Orbieston, George Maxwell, baillie of Kupatrick, Robert Laing, miller in Duntocher, John Shaw of Bargarran, Gavin Walkingshaw, sometime of that ilk, came, with about a hundred other persons, ‘all armed with guns, pistols, swords, bayonets, and other weapons invasive,’ and, having appointed George Maxwell, ‘Orbieston’s own bailie-depute,’ to march at their head, they advanced in military order, and with drums beating and trumpets sounding, to the parish kirk of Erskine, where, ‘in a most insolent and violent manner, they did, at their own hand, and without any order of law, remove and take away the complainer’s seat and dask, and sacrilegiously bring away the stones that were lying upon the graves of the complainer’s predecessors, and beat and strike several of the complainer’s tenants and others, who came in peaceable manner to persuade them to desist from such unwarrantable violence.’

Dargavel instantly proceeded with measures for obtaining redress from the Privy Council, when his chief, Sir John Maxwell of Pollock, a member of that all-powerful body, interfered to bring about an agreement between the disputants. With the consent of the Earl of Glencairn, principal heritor of the parish, Dargavel ‘yielded for peace-sake to remove his seat from that place of the kirk, where it had stood for many generations;’ while Orbieston on his part agreed that Dargavel ‘should retain his room of burial-place in the east end of the kirk, with allowance to rail it in, and strike out a door upon the gable of it, as he should see convenient.’ This did not, however, end the controversy.

The first glimpse of further procedure which we obtain is from a letter of John Shaw of Bargarran, professing to be a Mend of both parties, though he had appeared amongst the armed party led by Orbieston’s bailie-depute. He writes, 23d August, as follows to William Cunningham of Craigends) a decided Mend of Dargavel:

‘SIR—The Laird of Orbieston heard when he was last here that Dargavel was intendit to put through a door to his burial-place, which will be (as he says) very inconvenient for Orbieston’s laft’ [gallery]; so he desired me to acquant you therewith, that ye wold deall with Dargavel to forbear; otherways be wold take, it very ill, and has given orders to some people here to stop his design, if he do it not willingly; wherefor, to prevent further trouble and emulation betwixt the two gentlemen, ye wold do well to advyse him to the contrair either by a lyn or advyse, as ye think most proper. I desyre not to be seen in this, because they are both my Mends, and I a weel-wisher to them both. I thought to have ivaited on you myself; bot, being uncertain of your being at home, gives you the trouble of this lyne, which is all from, sir, your most humble servant, J. Shaw. Ye wold do this so soon as possible.’

There are letters from Craigends to Dargavel, strongly indicating the likelihood that violent measures would again be resorted to by Orbieston, and advising how these might best be met and resisted. But the remainder of the affair seems to have been peaceable. Orbieston applied to the Privy Council for an order to stop Dargavel, apparently proceeding upon the rule long established, but little obeyed, against burying in churches; and the Council did send an order, dated the 29th August, ‘requiring you to desist from striking any door or breaking any part of the church- wall of Erskine, until your right and Orbieston’s right be discusst by the judges competent for preventing further abuse.’ Dargavel immediately sent a petition, shewing how he was only acting upon an agreement with Orbieston, and hereupon the former order was recalled, and Dargavel permitted to have the access he required, however incommodious it might be to Orbieston’s ‘laft.’

1692, May 10
The prisoners in the Canongate Tolbooth forced the key from the jailer, and took possession of their prison, which they held out against the magistrates for a brief space. A committee of Privy Council was ordered to go and inquire who had been guilty of this act of rebellion.1 Viewing the manner iu which jails were provided, there can be no doubt that it was a rebellion of the stomach.

May 17
Under our present multiplication of newspapers, a piece of false intelligence is so quickly detected, that there is no temptation for the most perverse politician to put such a thing in circulation. In King William’s days, when the printed newspaper barely existed, and the few who were curious about state-affairs had to content themselves with what was called a news-letter—a written circular emanating from a centre in London—a falsehood would now and then prove serviceable to a party, partieular]y a depressed one.

We get an idea of a piece of the social economy of the time under notice, from a small matter which came under the attention of the Privy Council. William Murray kept a tavern in the Canongate. Each post brought him a news-letter for the gratification of his customers, and which doubtless served to maintain their allegiance to his butt of claret. Just at this time, when’ there were alarms of an invasion from France, a lie about preparations on the French shore was worth its ink. The lord high chancellor now informed the Council that Murray’s letter was generally full of false news; that he caused destroy the one brought by last post, merely to keep Murray out of trouble; and he had kept up the one just come, ‘in respect there is a paper therein full of cyphers which cannot be read.’ Matters having now become so serious, he had caused Murray to be brought before the Council.

Murray declared before a committee ‘he knows not what person writes the news-letter to him . . . . he never writes any news from this to London . . . . he knows not what the cyphers in the paper sent in his letter tth this post “does signify.’ They sent him under care of a macer to the Tolbooth, to be kept there in Close prison, and his pap’rs at home to be searched for matter against their majesties or the government.

On the 2d of June, William Murray represented that he had now been a fortnight in jail, and his poor family would be ruined if he did not immediately regain his liberty. The Council caused him to be examined about the cypher-letter, and asked who was his correspondent. We do not learn what satisfaction he gave on these points; but a week later, he was liberated.

On the 15th November, the Privy Council ordered the magistrates of Edinburgh to shut up the Exchange Coffee-house, and bring the keys to them, ‘in respect of the seditious news vented in and dispersed from the said coffee-house.’ A month after, the owners, Gilbert Fyfe and James Marjoribanks, merchants, shewed that, some of their news-letters having once before been kept up from them on account of the offensive contents, they had changed their correspondent, in order that the government might have no such fault to find with them. Moved, however, by malice against them, their old correspondent had addressed to them a letter sure by its contents to bring them into trouble with the officers of state, and it had been the cause of their house being shut up accordingly. Seeing how innocently on their part this had come about, and bow prejudicial it was to their interest, the men petitioned for re-possession of their house, which was granted, under caution that they were to vent no news until it was approved of by their majesties’ solicitor, or whoever the Privy Council might appoint, ‘the reviser always setting his name thereto, or at least ane other mark, as having revised the same.’

Not long after, we find the Council in such trouble on account of false news as to be under the necessity of considering some general measure on the subject.

In December, one William Davidson, described as a ‘writer,’ was taken up and put into the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, ‘for writing and spreading of lies an4 false news;’ and the Privy Council issued an order ‘for delivering of the said William to ane of the officers come from Flanders, to have been carried there as a soldier.’ On its appearing, however, that William ‘is but a silly cripple boy, having had his leg and thigh-bones broke,’ they ordered the magistrates of Edinburgh to banish him from their city, ‘in case they shall find him guilty of the said crime.’

On the 12th of July 1694, we hear something more of this William Davidson. For inadvertently adding to a news-letter a postscript ‘bearing some foolish thing offensive to the governnient, without affirming whether it was true or false, hut only that it was reported,’ he had been condemned to banishment from’ the city, and also disinherited by a Whiggish father, now deceased. He had since lived upon the charity of his relations and acquaintances; but these were now weary of maintaining him, and be was consequently ‘redacted to extream misery.’ Having broken his thigh-bone six several times, be was incapable of any employment but that of writing in a chamber, from which, however, he was debarred by his banishment from Edinburgh. He therefore craved a relaxation of his sentence, offering ‘to take the oath of allegiance and subscribe the assurance, to evidence his sincerity towards the government.’ The poor lad’s petition was complied with.

July
Sir James Carmichael of Bonnyton, a minor, was proprietor of the lands of Thankerton, lying on the north side of the river Clyde, in the upper ward of Lanarkshire. The Clyde had been the march between his estate and those of the adjacent proprietors—Chancellor of Shieldhill, and George Kellie in Quothquan; but ‘rivers are bad neighbours and unfaithful boundaries, as Lucan says of the Po,' and there had happened a mutatio alvei about fifty years before, in consequence of a violent flood, and now a part of Bonnyton lands was thrown on the opposite side. Under the name of the Park-holm, it had lain neglected for many years; but at length, in 1688, the present laird’s father sowed and reaped it; whereupon the opposite neighbours, considering it as theirs, resolved to assert their right to it. At the date noted, they came eighty strong, ‘resolved to take advantage of Sir James his infancy, and by open bangstry and violence to turn him and his tenants out of his possession.’ Their arms were ‘pitchforks, great staves, scythes, pistols, swords, and mastive dogs.’ In a rude and violent manner, they cut down ‘the whole growth of fourteen boils sowing of corn or thereby,’ drove it home to their own houses, and there made use of it in bedding their cattle, or threw it upon the dunghills. Thus, ‘corns which would have yielded at least nine hundred bolls oats at eight pounds Scots the boll, were rendered altogether useless for man or beast.’ During the progress of this plunder, the tenants were confined to their houses under a guard. So it was altogether a riot and oppression, inferring severe punishment, which was accordingly called for by the curators of the young landlord.

The Council, having heard both parties, found the rriot proven and ordained Chancellor of Shieldhill to pay three hundred merks to the pursuer. Afterwards (December 26, 1695), the Lords of Session confirmed the claim of Bonnyton to the Park-holm.

In this year died the Viscountess Stair—born Margaret Ross of Balniel, in Wigtonshire—the wife of the ablest man of his age and country, and mother of a race which has included an extraordinary number of men of talent and official distinction. The pair had been married very nearly fifty years, and they were tenderly attached to the last. The glories of the family history had not been quite free of shade; witness the tragical death of the eldest daughter Janet, the original of Lucy Ashton in The Bride of Lammermoor. Lady Stair is admitted to have been a woman of a soaring mind, of great shrewdness and energy of character, and skilled in the ways of the world; and to these qualities on her part it was perhaps, in part, owing that her family, on the whole, prospered so remarkably. The public, however, had such a sense of her singular power over fortune, as to believe that she possessed necromantic gifts, and trafficked with the Evil One. An order which she left at her death regarding the disposal of her body, helped to confirm this popular notion. ‘She desired that she might not be put under ground,. but that her coffin should stand upright on one end of it, promising that, while she remained in that situation, the Dalrymples should continue to .fiourish. What was the old lady’s motive for the request, or whether she really made such a promise, I shall not take upon me to determine; but it’s certain her coffin stands upright in the aile of the church of Kirkliston, the burial-place of the family."

A local historian attributes to her ladyship 'one of the best puns extant. Graham of Claverhouse (commonly pronounced Clavers) was appointed sheriff of Wigtonshire in 1682. On one occasion, when this violent persecutor had been inveighing, in her presence, against our illustrious reformer, she said: "Why are you so severe on the character of John Knox? You are both reformers: he gained his point by clavers [talk]; you attempt to gain yours by knocks."

Aug 13
The boy carrying the post-bag on its last stage from England was robbed by ‘a person mounted on horseback with a sword about him, and another person on foot with a pistol in his hand, upon the highway from Haddington to Edinburgh, near that place thereof called Jock’s Lodge [a mile from town], about ten hours of the night.’ The robbers took ‘the packet or common mail with the horse whereon the boy rode.’ The Privy Council issued a proclamations offering a reward of a hundred pounds for the apprehension of the offenders, ‘with a free pardon to any one of them who should inform upon the rest.

Oct 1
The troubles arising from corporation privileges were in these old times incessant. Any attempt by an unfreeman to execute work within the charmed circle was met with the sternest measures of repression and punishment, often involving great suffering to poor industrious men. Indeed, there is perhaps no class of facts more calculated than this to disenchant modern people out of the idea that the days of old were days of mutual kindliness and brothership.

At the date noted, one William Somerville, a wright-burgess of Edinburgh, was engaged in some repairs upon the mansion of the Earl of Roxburgh, in the Canongate, when Thomas Kinloch, deacon of the wrights of that jurisdiction, came with assistants, and in a violent manner took away the whole of the tools which the workmen were using. This was done as a check to Edinburgh wrights coming and doing work in a district of which they were not free. Somerville, two days after, made a formal demand for the restoration of his ‘looms;’ but they were positively refused. The Earl of Roxburgh was a minor; but his curators felt aggrieved by Kinloch’s procedure, and accordingly concurred with Somerville in charging the Canongate deacon, before the Privy Council, with the commission of riot and oppression in the earl’s house. Apparently, if the Roxburgh mansion had been subject to the jurisdiction of the Canongate, the Council could not have given any redress; but it so happened, that when the earl’s ancestor, in 1636, gave up the superiority of the Canougate, he reserved his house as to be holden of the crown; therefore, the Canongate corporations had no title to interfere with the good pleasure of his lordship in the selection of workmen to do work in his house. The Council remitted this point of law to the Court of Session; but meanwhile ordered the restoration of Somerville’s tools.

As an example of the troubles connected with mercantile privilege, it may be well to introduce one simple case of the treatment of an interloper, by the Merchant Company of Edinburgh, the members of which were the sole legalised dealers in cloth of all kinds in the city. In June 1699, it was reported to the Company that one Mary Flaikfield, who had formerly been found selling goods 'off the mercat-day,’ and enacted herself to desist from the practice, had been found sinning again in the same manner. She was detected in selling some plaids and eight pieces of muslin to a stranger, and the goods were seized and deposited in the Merchants’ Hall.

The poor woman at first alleged that she had only been conversing with this stranger, while the goods chanced to be lying beside her, and the Company was wrought upon to give back her goods, all except two pieces of the muslin, which they said they would detain till Mary could prove what she alleged.

Presently, however, there was a change in their mood, for John Corsbie, came forward with information that Mary Flaikfield was really a notable interloper. The very person she was lately detected in dealing with, she had wiled away from Corsbie’s own shop, where he was about to buy the same goods. She was accustomed to sell a good deal to the family of Lord Halcraig. Then she had not appeared to prove her innocence. ‘The vote was put: "Roup the two pieces of muslin or not?" and it carried "Roup." Accordingly, the muslin being measured, and found to be twenty-two ells, and ane hour-glass being set up, several persons bid for the same. The greatest offer made was fourteen shillings per ell, which offer was made by Francis Brodie, treasurer—the time being run—the said offer was three several times cried out, and the said two pieces of muslin were declared to belong to him for £15, 8s. [Scots]; but if she compear and relieve the same before the next meeting, allows her to have her goods in payment of the above sum.’

At the meeting of the ensuing week, Mary Flaikfield not having come forward to redeem her muslin, the treasurer was instructed to dispose of it as he should think fit, and be comptable to the Company for £15, 8s. Two days later, however, there was another meeting solely on account of Mary, when the Master, Baiie Warrender, and his assistants, felt that Christian charity would not allow them to proceed further. ‘Considering that Mary Flaikfield is a poor woman, big with child, and has been detained here about a fortnight, they, in point of pity and compassion for her, order that her two pieces of muslin be given her back upon payment of fourteen shillings to the officer.’ She was not dismissed without a caution as to her future behaviour.

Nov
The stranding of whales in the Firth of Forth was of such natural and frequent occurrence in early times, that a tithe of all cast ashore between Cockburnspath and the mouth of the Avon, was one of the gifts conferred by the pious David upon the Canons Augustine of Holyrood. In modern times, it may be considered as an uncommon event. At this time, however, one had embayed itself in the harbour of Limekilns, a little port near Qneensferry. A litigation took place regarding the property of it, between the chancellor, the Earl of Tweeddale, as lord of the regality of Dunfermline, and Mr William Erskine, depute to the admiral; and the Lords finally adjudged it to the chancellor, with seven hundred merks as the price at which it had been sold.

Dec 1
The Earl of Moray, being pursued at law for a tradesman’s account, which was referred to his oath, craved the Court of Session to appoint a commission to take his oath at Dunnibrissle, on the ground that, if he were obliged to come to Edinburgh for the purpose, he should incur as much expense as the whole amount of the alleged debt. As Dunnibrissle is visible from Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth, this must be looked upon as an eccentrically economical movement on his lordship’s part. The court granted the commission, but ordained his lordship to pay any expense which might be incurred by the debtor, or his representative, in travelling to Dunnibrissle to be present at the oath-taking.

The court had occasionally not less whimsical cases before it. In February 1698, there was one regarding a copper caldron, which had been poinded, but not first taken to the Cross to be ‘appreciate.’ The defenders represented that they had done something equivalent in carrying thither a part of it—the ledges—as a symbol; following here a rule applicable with heavy movables, as where a salt-pan was represented by two nails; nay, a symbol not homogeneous, as a wisp of straw for a flock of sheep, fulfilled the law. The defence was sustained, and the poinding affirmed

Dec
The Privy Council had under its hands three Protestant clergymen—namely, Mr John Hay, late minister at Falkiand; Mr Alexander Leslie, late minister at Crail; and Mr Patrick Middleton, late minister at Leslie—in short, three of the 'outed’ Episcopal clergy.—for not praying for William and Mary. They acknowledged that they prayed ‘only in general terms’ for the king and queen, and were therefore discharged from thereafter exercising any clerical functions, under severe penalties. Soon after, the Council judged, in the case of Mr Alexander Lundie, late minister of Cupar, who stated that, ‘having a mixed auditory, he prayed so as might please both parties.’ This style of praying, or else the manner of alluding to it, did not please the Privy Council, and Mr Lundie was ordered ‘to be carried from the bar, by the macers, to the Tolbooth, there to remain during the Council’s pleasure.’ Having lain there four days, far from all means of subsistence, while his wife was ill of a dangerous disease at home, and his family of small children required his care, Mr Lundie was fain to beg the Council’s pardon for what he had said, and so obtained his liberation also, but only with a discharge from all clerical functions till he should properly qualify himself according to act of parliament.

On the 22d of May 1693, Mr David Angus, minister of Fortrose, was before the Council on a charge that, although deprived for not praying for their majesties in terms of the act of parliament, ‘he has publicly preached and exercised the ministerial function within his own house, and parish where the same lies, and elsewhere, without qualifying himself by signing the oath of allegiance.’ So far from evidencing the sense he ought to have had of the grievous circumstances from which the nation had been relieved, by reading the proclamation of estates, he had neglected it, and prayed for King James, thus stirring up the disaffected in opposition to their majesties’ government, and discouraging their loyal subjects. These were ‘crimes which ought to be severely punished for the terror of others.’ The Lords, therefore, finding him unable to deny the alleged facts, and indisposed to engage for a different behaviour in future, confirmed his deprivation, and discharged him from preaching or exercising any ministerial function within the kingdom.

As a specimen of the equivocating prayers—Mr Charles Key, one of the ministers of South Leith, was charged, in September 1694, with using these expressions, ‘"That God would bless our king and queen, and William and Mary," or our king and queen, William and Mary, and the rest of the ‘royal family."

Dec 31
A great number of recruits were now drawn together to be sent to Flanders, but the vessels for their transportation were not ready. The Privy Council therefore ordered their distribution throughout the jails of Lothian and Fife, sixty, eighty, a hundred, and even more, to each tolbooth, according to its capacity—for example, two hundred and forty-four to the jails of Musselburgii, Haddington, and Leith—there to be furnished with blankets to lie on by the various magistrates. When it is known that two Jacobite gentlemen had lately petitioned for liberation from Musselburgh jail, on the ground that it did not contain a fire-room, and their health was consequently becoming ruined, it will not seem surprising that a competent troop of horse and foot had to be ordered ‘to keep guard upon the said recruits, and take care that none of them escape.’

That a good many, induced either by the hardships of their situation, or the enticements of disaffected persons, did desert the service, is certain: a strict proclamation on this subject came out in April 1694. At the same time, John M’Lachlan, schoolmaster in Glasgow, was before the Privy Council on a charge of having induced a number of soldiers in the regiments lying at that city to desert. ‘Being disaffected,’ it was said, ‘to their majesties’ government, he has, so far as possible for thir three or four years past, made it his business to weaken the government, and to instigate and persuade several soldiers to run away.’ He did ‘forge passes for them.’ In particular, in January last, he did ‘persuade John Fergusson and John M’Leod, soldiers in Captain Anderson’s company in Lord Strathnaver’s regiment, then lying at Glasgow, to run away and desert . . . . telling them that they were but beasts and fools for serving King William, for that he was sure that the late King James would be soon here again....He had given passes to several of the regiment formerly in garrison at Glasgow, and offered to go with them to a gentlewoman’s house without the Steeple-green port, who was a cousin of his, who would secure them and receive their clothes, and furnish them with others to make their escape; and told them they were going to Flanders, and would be felled there, and so it was best for them to desert, and that he would hide their firelocks underground, and give them other coats and money, and a pass to carry them safe away.’

The Council, having called evidence, and found the charge proven, sentenced M’Lachlan to be whipped through the city of Edinburgh, and banished to the American plantations. They afterwards altered the sentence, and adjudged the Jacobite schoolmaster, instead of being whipped, to stand an hour on the pillory at Edinburgh, and an hour on the pillory at Glasgow, under the care of the hangman, with a paper on his brow, with these words written or printed thereon—’John M’Laehlan, schoolmaster at Glasgow, appointed to be set on the pillory at Edinburgh and Glasgow, and sent to the plantations, for seducing and debauching soldiers to run away from their colours, and desert their majesties’ service.’

Two days later, the Privy Council recommended their majesties’ advocate to prosecute M’Lachlan before the committee anent pressed men, ‘for the disloyal and impertinent speeches uttered by him yesterday while he stood upon the pillory of Edinburgh.’ What came of this, we do not learn; but on the 3d of July there is a petition from M’Lachlan, setting forth that, after a nineteen weeks’ imprisonment, he is sinking under sickness and infirmity, while his family are starving at home, and craving his liberty, on giving assurance that he shall not offend again against the government. His liberation was ordered.

James Hamilton, keeper of the Canongate Tolbooth (July 16, 1696), represented to the Privy Council that it had been customary for him and his predecessors to receive two shillings Scots per night for each recruit kept in the house, with a penny sterling to the servants (being 3d. sterling in all), and their lordships, in consideration of his ‘great trouble in keeping such unruly prisoners in order’—he ‘being liable to the payment of ten dollars for every man that shall make his escape ‘—had authorised him to take ‘obleisements’ from the officers for the payment of these dues, till lately when the authority was withdrawn. This had led to loss on the part of the petitioner, who had now spent all his own means, and further run into debt, so that, ‘through continual hazard of captions,’ he was threatened with becoming a prisoner in his own jail. He entreated payment of some arrears for General Mackay’s recruits, as well as these recent arrears, and likewise for the proper allowance for ‘the coiners and clippers,’ latterly an abundant class of prisoners, on account of the tempting condition of the coin of the realm for simulation. The Lords recommended Hamilton to the treasury for payment of the monies due to him.


Return to Book Index

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast